Speaking of beef, I mean beer...
The JoongAng Daily for Wednesday, May 14 -- my birthday, if you recall -- had a couple of useful articles on finding good beer in Korea.
The articles don't talk much about Korean beers. I wonder why.
Anyway, the first article, "Booze news for beer hunters," by Lee Young-hee and Kim Do-eun, describes the Koreans changing tastes in beers:
In Korea, American beverages like Miller and Budweiser, and Mexico's Corona, used to be considered cool, but today European beers, with their stronger personalities and richer tastes are becoming more prominent.That's a change all for the better here in Korea even if I do choose readily available Budweiser over the cheaper Korean beers, but if my Arkansas beer-buddy John Wells is right about the best, most-creative beers in the world now being brewed in America, then we can hope for a New World reorientation sometime and a Korean return to American beers, albeit of more creative brews . . . unless Koreans worry about getting some of those mind-wasting prions from American-brewed, beef-flavored beer.
Interest in European drinks has been fueled in part by the tourism boom. As more Koreans travel overseas, they encounter a diverse range of brews. Events like Oktoberfest in Germany have introduced more locals here to that nation's wealth of beer talent. Subsequently, the beer market here is moving away from lagers and is embracing dark, wheat and light beers.
(Advice: Don't drink beef-flavored beer -- it's for the dogs!)
But worried Koreans can flush their brains of these concerns and unlikely prions by turning to beers with higher alcohol, described in a section of the article with this heading:
For drinkers who want to get drunkLee and Kim obviously know their Korean readership -- and perhaps their foreign readers as well -- for they get directly to the point:
A beer's alcohol content is usually about 4 to 5 percent. But if you want to get really plastered, try a barley-rich Bock, a lager with 7 to 9 percent alcohol. Erdinger Bock is 7.3 percent on the alcohol Richter scale while Paulaner Salvator at 7.5 percent will get you tipsy quickly.But that's not why I drink beer, and I feel no urge to flush my brain of any putative prion build-up from my many years eating American beef. Moreover, too much alcohol, not American beef, is the real mind-wasting stuff.
My advice to Korean youth with their irrational fears of getting bovine spongiform encephalopathy from American beef and their candlelight protests against importing mad-cow disease from the United States:
Kids, don't follow the example of your elders, drinking to get quickly drunk, but drink in moderation, and your brains will stay healthier no matter how much American beef you eat.That's my expert medical advice, speaking as a doctor of philosophy.
The second article, "Abide by this guide when you imbibe," written solely by Lee Young-hee, tells of Lee Hyo-bok's WaBar chain of bars offering a selection of international beers.
WaBar doesn't seem to have a website, despite having 100 bars (including one in L.A.'s Koreatown) though a website appears to be in the works.
Anyway, the bar owner, Lee Hyo-bok, offers some advice for would-be beer drinkers, including this final piece on how to drink a beer:
It tastes best with good friends close to you. Beer just doesn't taste as good when you drink alone.I agree, and precisely for that reason, when I'm hot and sweating after my daily exercise, I like to have an ice-cold beer with a friendly book.